If the core can learn from the edge -- as business leader and public intellectual John Seely Brown attests -- grassroots activist Denise Parkinson may be just the educator for the Memphis City Council.
One of the founders of the Save Libertyland! and a former mayoral candidate in Little Rock, Arkansas, Parkinson officially launched her campaign for the City Council's District 5 seat last week against Jim Strickland. Carol Chumney currently holds the District 5 position but will vacate to run for city mayor. -- by Preston Lauterbach
Flyer: What influenced your decision to run?
Parkinson: Memphis Light, Gas and Water, the Riverfront Development Corporation, and the Mid-South Fair. If you connect those dots, then you realize that there are shadowy, quasi-governmental non-profits that are systematically looting the system. It's time for a change in the status quo.
It also has to do with seeing the skyline, the unique architecture of Memphis, being destroyed. I call it "government by demolition."
What would you change?
For one thing, I would do everything I could to not set the precedent of paving over and bulldozing historic parks. I would do all I could to reopen the historic properties the city has closed. The Magevney House and the Mallory-Neely House have been closed for two, going on three years.
I want to make the city more family friendly, more kid friendly, and beef up our tourism. We've lost the way. We can unite the cultural and natural heritage of Memphis and make Memphis a destination again. When I was growing up in Arkansas, if you wanted to see a real city, you came to Memphis. That's not the case anymore.
Are you running as a Democrat?
[Sighs] I suppose. What choice do I have? I think that when a City Council is abandoning the system of checks and balances and shirking their responsibility and being a rubber stamp for the mayor, [party affiliation] doesn't matter.
Is there anyone in local politics that you look up to?
[Save Libertyland! member and County Commissioner] Steve Mulroy and Carol Chumney are two people with democratic principles that I would call my role models.